Groundbreaking party for Block 9 tower set for next week

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FARGO — Groundbreaking for Fargo's Block 9 highrise has been scheduled for 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 12, according to developers.

The ceremony will be a public event with a family-friendly party and speakers, including Mayor Tim Mahoney, according to Mark Dickerson, a spokesman for the R.D. Offutt Co.

The Kilbourne Group and RDO are partners in the project, which includes a 235-foot tower — the city's tallest building — a parking ramp and a park at the plaza. The estimated price tag is $117 million.

The first sign that construction will start soon happened earlier this week when workers took down a billboard at the future construction site, according to Keith Leier, the project manager from Kilbourne.

Excavation is scheduled to start during the week of Sept. 24, and the ramp is expected to be done first in June 2019. The tower would be substantially complete by fall 2020, which is also when the plaza is to reopen to the public.

The tower will include seven condo units at the top, followed by a 125-room hotel, office space, meeting and event space, RDO's office space, and, on the ground floor, retail space and a restaurant. It will be linked via skyway to a 379-stall garage, which itself will be linked to downtown Fargo's modest skyway network.

Both the garage and plaza will be open to the public.

For the Block 9 partners, getting to groundbreaking has been a long, convoluted road with many delays. At one point, they'd thought they would break ground in fall 2016, but missed that and several other self-imposed deadlines, in part, because of the time it took to get financing for the ambitious project.

Besides Kilbourne and RDO, the city of Fargo is also involved, providing land and tax incentives. The Kilbourne Group is owned by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, but he doesn't control day-to-day operations, his administration has said.